Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pay attention to your town officials

Printed in the Letters To The Editor section of the Keene Sentinel, take heed we have the same problems here in Winchester too.

Thank you for reporting on the Marlborough right-to-know lawsuit.
The right to know is an important issue in the governance of our state because it is the law that gives the citizen access to the government at all levels of the state.
It tells towns, school boards, planning and zoning boards, state Senate, the House, the governor; every public official how to conduct public business.
And it provides ways for the public to hold accountable those public officials who fail the law.
We lost our argument on a few issues: One we lost was our request to invalidate all decisions made by the board in regards to their dealings with MRI (Municipal Resources Inc). “The court was reluctant to infer from any perceived inaccuracy intent to conceal or distort.”
In other words, we did not offer sufficient proof that set of minutes from April 4, 2011, were deliberately inaccurate.
The Marlborough Board of Selectmen was enjoined to not violate RSA 91, Right to Know, any further.
Enjoin means a judicial remedy issued in order to prohibit a party from doing or continuing to do a certain activity. This was a big win for us and anything but a slap on the wrist.
Enjoining the Marlborough Board of Selectmen put teeth to the judge’s ruling on violations. It gives us, the plaintiffs, a remedy if they disobey the court order.
The board was found in violation of right to know in the Lindenfeld meeting, 3 out of meeting electronic communications, held three improper electronic meetings, once for improper electronic meeting to edit minutes, ignoring two requests for public records, failed to give notice for public meetings three times and failed to treat two of the three MRI meetings in Harrisville as town meetings.
The latter is a big win because the board has maintained the Harrisville MRI meetings were not public meetings per se, but informational meetings and they did not have to keep minutes. In regards to the electronic communications, we could have given the Superior Court dozens of examples of electronic violations of right to know.
Our board has been violating right to know by electronic communications for a long time. We are not sure how long, but we do know all of 2011 they were in violation of editing minutes, weekly, using email.
Judge Mangones has spoken and they can no longer use email to edit minutes; they must edit the minutes at their weekly meeting on Monday nights.
I feel this board is very arrogant and has believed for a long time they are above the law.
For example, at one meeting John Northcott asked Mr. Cameron to write him a letter telling him who had been hurt by the board breaking the law; to name him one person harmed by the board.
Mr. Cameron replied that if Mr. Northcott had to ask such a question, he did not understand the seriousness of the situation.
This unedited exchange can be seen on Youtube at watch?v>dW8bLst513k.
I want to be able to respect and appreciate public officials who give a lot of their time to care for and better their communities, including Marlborough. I feel sad this situation is so out of hand that public servants need to be brought in line with the law by the very citizens they serve.
I urge your readers not to do as we did and ignore what is going on in town.
Attend meetings, even if it is just a few times a year. Attend your annual town meetings every year.
Yes, they are long and they are important because it is when policy changes are made among other important town tasks. Ask to have the minutes from the selectmen and all town boards or committees emailed to you.
This is an easy way to spend 10 minutes a week to learn what is going on. Know that you may see any town record, except personnel files, so if you want to know something, put in a written request and get it.
You may have access to invoices, minutes, studies, emails, letters to or from the boards, permits, etc.




warm and fuzzy feeling? said...

I was wondering to myself what our selectmen think every time they ride by a for sale sign that's in front of another foreclosed home. I think it might go something like, man not another one, but what can I do, my first allegiance is to protect the town employees. Hope you people enjoy going to work today 2/20, while the town hall gets another 3 day work week. You people losing your homes can feel good knowing that you are sacrificing for the greater good.

Sick in the head! said...

Ref: warm & fuzzy. I believe differently, the selectmen have a different aspect reaction when they ride-by a for sale sign or foreclosure sign. In their mental-midget brain, here are thinking there goes another sucker that didn’t go alone with us. We could have given them an abatement to lower their taxes if they became one of the circle of friends, No! They had to disagree with us. Good bye sucker….